Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Health says no time limit to claim Kim Jong Nam's body

Mr Kim Jong Nam was murdered at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb 13 after two women smeared a chemical, identified as VX nerve agent, on his face.
Mr Kim Jong Nam was murdered at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb 13 after two women smeared a chemical, identified as VX nerve agent, on his face.PHOTO: REUTERS

Health Minister's statement comes as report says forensics experts used moles on Mr Kim's face to identify him

GEORGE TOWN - Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Health Hilmi Yahaya said Saturday (March 11), the Health Ministry has not decided on the next course of action for the body of Kim Jong Nam and there was no time limit to claim it, The Star reported. 

Datuk Seri Hilmi said the police had completed their investigation and handed it over to the Health Ministry on Friday.

"We need some time to decide what to do with the body. According to the law in Malaysia, there is no time limit to release or not release a body," Dr Hilmi said. 

He added that under normal procedure, a body would be released to the victim's family members while an unclaimed body would be buried in Malaysia.

"Since this is a high profile case, wait for us to decide," he said.

Malaysian police on Friday announced they had positively identified Mr Kim as the man who was killed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 13, although they refused to say how the body was identified.

The New Straits Times, citing a source with knowledge of the identification process, said on Saturday forensics experts had used the scatter of 21 moles on Mr Kim’s face to match against an undisputed image of Mr Kim in order to positively identify him as the body of the man that has been lying at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital morgue since Feb 15. 

The paper said the experts had worked by establishing the number of moles on his face and measuring their distribution patterns. In particular, three prominent moles that  lined near one of his eyes and one to the right of his lips helped them to confirm his identity. 

Mr Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was murdered at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) on Feb 13 after two women smeared a chemical, identified as VX nerve agent, on his face.

North Korea has condemned Malaysia's handling of the case, and accused it of colluding with South Korea in the murder investigation.

On Tuesday, North Korea barred Malaysians from leaving the country, which led to Malaysia doing the same to North Korean citizens in Malaysia.

Despite the rift, Malaysia's Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Saturday said the diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea would not result in a war between the two nations. 

"If we look at North Korean geopolitics within the Korean peninsular and United States, it is much worse compared with Malaysia," Datuk Seri Hishammuddin said. "I have not received any emergency reports about North Korea." 

Mr Hishammuddin added that the government was still pursuing diplomatic channels to solve their issues with North Korea.

"Cabinet has recently decided on two main issues and the safety of our citizens currently stranded in Pyongyang is our top priority. The other thing is to ensure the investigation into Kim Jong Nam's death is done transparently to find the truth," he said. 

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman on Saturday said formal talks with North Korea over the return of Malaysians stranded there would start in the coming days, Reuters reported. North Korea had indicated they were ready to begin the talks, he said, although the Malaysian side did not yet know what Pyongyang’s demands are. 

 

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